I had a lazy morning this morning - slept in and then had a long breakfast with some girls from Perth who are also doing their Europe trip. We chatted for a good couple of hours - all of us are travelling alone so it was nice to have people to chat to who understood the challenges.
The weather was pretty awful today. It rained all last night so all the beautiful white snow, which had been like icing sugar, has turned into brown slush. Not only does it make walking hard because it is so slippery, but it's hard to keep your feet dry! I discovered today my boots are not waterproof, so right now after a day of wet feet my toes are like little prunes.
I headed up to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and bought my train ticket to Prague for tomorrow morning. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there are no issues with travelling tomorrow - I've already had my fair share! The train trip is about 4 hours so I can get some reading in.
I then tried to navigate my way to the Pergamon Museum - Berlin's Museum of Antiquity.After boasting yesterday about my map skills getting better I must admit I didn't do so well today. To be fair, it was raining and hard to work out where I was due to having to make lots of detours because of the mountains of slush everywhere. Anyway, I finally made it to the museum and, aftering waiting in line for 30 mins outside, got in!The Pergamon has a world renowned section on the Ancient Near-East and houses the Ishtar Gate -the main city gate from the Babylonian empire. It was very impressive.
There were also lots of other artefacts from the Assyrian Empire and the towns of Ashur and Uruk. Such amazing stuff! And it's also really interesting to explore the history of how the museums got hold of their collections - there's a lot of politics involved!!
Below is a section of the Temple of Innana (or Ishtar as she is sometimes known) - she is a Sumerian goddess.
The gates of Miletus - an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia (now Turkey). This massive artefact was significantly damaged during WWII during the bombing raids on Berlin.
I bought a copy of the museum catalogue - I am going to be studying ancient Babylon in some depth next year so it will be a good purchase I'm sure!
I still had about an hour and a half to kill before a vigil mass at St Hedwig's Cathedral so I went looking for a cafe to sit down and read my new purchase. Unfortunately good cafes seem to be hard to find here - one of the only complaints I have to make about Berlin. There are quite a few Starbucks but they are a) really expensive and b) crap. Plus they are always packed so you can never get a seat! I ended up walking along one of the main streets and found myself in a store kind of like Borders book shop back home. I could easily have killed quite a lot of time there but it was packed full of Christmas shoppers.
I finally found a coffee shop where the coffee was much cheaper than Starbucks and better. The barista made me a little love heart in the milk, which was quite nice :) And before anyone makes a comment he was about 50!
Mass this evening started off a little awkward - I couldn't find the entrance to the Church (it's a dome shape) and accidentally went in the back where the sacristy is! The priest looked at me funny, so I apologised profusely and sat at the back, feeling quite embarrassed! I must say that is one of the things I find quite hard in being in another country - I seem to do the wrong thing a lot. After 2 weeks of stuffing things up and apologising I feel like this trip is going to make me perhaps a more humble person! Hopefully.
Mind you, nothing I've done compares to my friend who was trying to order a kebab from a street vendor who spoke no English and there was a choice between a round roll or the long roll with pita bread. Let's just say her hand actions to describe that she wanted the long roll had many a German standing around laughing their heads off - me too!
That's almost it for Berlin - I really liked it here. I didn't really have any plans set in stone for what I had wanted to do but this city is so interesting and I found so much to do and see. I'd love to come back here when it's warmer and see what it's like in full bloom. One day!
Just one last photo of a Berlin at night - this is a Christmas market, but I also love the great big building behind it. I have no idea what it is but there are so many like it in Berlin - just beautiful!